Op-Ed Argues that Arguing About Gun Violence is Pointless

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

In my time, I've been called all manner of horrible things, simply because I favor gun rights. I've had people--people who lash out at others for not being compassionate--hope one of my children gets killed simply because I have what they think of as the wrong opinion on guns.


I don't do this. Most gun rights advocates don't do this.

It's not how we do business.

And, strangely enough, these actions also illustrate why we have an issue with violence in this country. At least, that's what ran through my mind earlier when I came across this op-ed urging people to see the humanity in the other side of disagreement.

When faced with such atrocities, the knee-jerk response is to start assigning blame, which Brené Brown defines as “the discharge of pain and discomfort.” It is seductive to hear about gun violence and to simplify the problem as a lack of gun control. This will inevitably spark debates between advocates of the Second Amendment and people who believe that reducing access to firearms will decrease gun violence. Despite how often these issues arise and this cycle repeats, it is human nature to choose a side, argue against the opposition and defend the virtues of the vantage point that aligns best with your values. We continue these fruitless arguments until the news cycle ages, the next distraction arises and nothing is resolved. This is where the actual problem lies.

We are each the main characters in our story. Most people view themselves as "the good guy," meaning those who oppose us must inherently support a “bad” ideology. Our desire to be pure and just means seeing others as “less than.” We align ourselves with like-minded individuals and become tribalized within a belief system that we defend so much that we disregard the humanity of those we disagree with. When we disregard other people’s humanity, we see them as less than human. When we see people as subhuman, the value of their life is diminished. When we struggle to see the value in all lives, we develop apathy for the value in human life, and people die.


See, this piece talks about the disagreement between gun rights proponents and gun control advocates, and there isn't a lot of humanity being considered, at least in our direction. We're often demonized and treated as if we're less than simply because we stand on the other side of the issue, all while most of us recognize that most gun control supporters actually think they're pushing for something good.

We disagree, obviously, but we don't necessarily think they're doing it for nefarious purposes.

This is not a two-way street.

Yet this idea that we are less than simply because we hold a difference of opinion isn't limited to politics. It's likely what drives much of the violent crime these folks say they're opposed to.

One reason gangs tend to become criminal is that they become very tribal. They believe all within the tribe are united while those outside of the tribe represent something "other." Because they are something other than the tribe, they're less than the tribe. It's why there's no qualms about killing someone from a rival tribe--they're not really human. It's why there's little concern for collateral damage and dead innocents. They're still not really people. They're outsiders, so they don't matter.

The gangs, for example, have decided that anyone who isn't with them is against them, and that is dangerous thinking if one isn't careful, because it dehumanizes everyone else.


In the case of gun control advocates, we're not human because we don't hold onto the ideals they associate with "good." We're bad because we look at things and see them differently.

So maybe they need to read that op-ed and recognize that they're falling into the same trap, one that leads to so much of the dead and destruction they claim they're trying to stop.

As for us, we're going to keep our guns and our general refusal not to treat them as if they're less than human. 

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